The research area “Auditory Ecology” refers to the acoustical environments that a person experiences and the auditory demands that a person has in these environments. This research area focuses on people's listening environments, as well as the individual's listening intentions and the tasks that are performed in these environments.
In a number of studies, ORCA Europe has investigated different aspects of the listening situations that people encounter in their everyday lives. The studies have employed Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) methodology, which involves prompting test participants several times a day to describe their auditory ecology. For example, participants are asked if their the intention in the reported listening situation is speech communication, focused listening, or passive listening. We have studied how frequently different types of listening situations occur, as well as how difficult and important they are to the individual test participant. We have also studied how noise affects people's perception of a situation, and which hearing-aid settings test participants prefer in particular listening situations. A Paired Comparisons paradigm has been used to measure this preference in several studies. The concept of "Auditory ecology" has thus evolved into an important aspect of hearing-device development and an important consideration when designing and ecologically valid laboratory tests.